12:32AM Dec 21, 2021
This podcast is brought to you by the Albany public library main branch and the generosity of listeners like you. What is a podcast? God daddy these people talk as much as you do! Razib Khan's Unsupervised Learning.
Hey everybody. I'm here today on the unsupervised learning podcast with Dr. Eric Kaufman. Eric, could you introduce yourself?
Thanks Razib. Yeah, my name is Aaron Kaufman. I'm a professor of politics said Birkbeck College, University of London in Britain. And I've I I've written on religious demography and also on the politics of populism, as well as on academic freedom. So I won't go into all the details, you can find me on SNEPS.net, where you can see more details.
Yeah, and, you know, there's three main books that, you know, I know you from "Rise and Fall Anglo America", which is a fascinating topic 2004 "Shall the religious inherit the earth" 2010 and "White Shift" 2018 I think a lot of American listeners to this podcast right now probably actually know you from White Shift. You are now a bunch of podcasts that I think a lot of people here have probably listened to, you know, Ezra Klein podcast, I think if the weeds at the time, that sort of thing. And which is a fascinating book, and maybe we'll get to that later. But today, I really want to focus on your 2010 book "Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?" I think it's a fascinating book, I think it's under discussed, partly just because religion is such an interesting topic. But and people like to have opinions about it. But often it's not informed by deep scholarship. It's just one of those things that everyone thinks that they understand on some level, and they can kind of use their horse sense to poke around and get at it. And I think the big thesis, the big issue that you point to, is the fact that in pretty much every human society, the religious have a higher reproductive fertility have a higher rate of reproduction than the non religious. And so if you just extrapolate that logic, it does look like the future is soaked with, you know, the demography of religious people are the descendants of religious people. Can you talk a little bit more about the main findings of your book?
Yeah, I mean, really, there's two prongs, if you like, of the argument. I mean, one is where religiosity per se, or theological beliefs drives, pronatal ism, and higher birth rates. And that's where I'm looking at groups like the ultra orthodox Jews, or the Amish, for example. And then you have situations where, just because of the demographic movement of people, the parts of the world that happened to be growing, demographically also happened to be relatively religious, and the parts of the world that are demographically mature tend to be relatively less religious. So first of all, the population of the globe, and secondly, the population of migration, migrants is going to be more religious, and so that those are the sort of two now the second, in the second case, for example, of religious immigration into secular countries in the West, let's say, that's not necessarily caused by pro pronatal ism. So it's more the case that people from poor countries, which happen to be religious and happen to have higher birth rates kind of show up, which is not exactly the same phenomenon, but combined, the direct and the indirect forms of religious fertility, I think are going to have a an important impact on the world and and on societies in the West.
Yeah, I mean, so this, these facts that you're talking about, they're pretty straightforward facts. And in fact, they have been observed, you know, on some level by commentators, thinkers, intellectuals, for centuries, so I have read that in France in the early 19th century, the secular Republican intellectuals, were terrified that France was going to be filled with Catholic Poles, you know, Catholics to a lesser extent, I think, at the time from Southern Europe, but really, a lot of Poless are showing up. And, you know, they saw the reproductive differences, you know, I'm assuming places like the Vendee in southwest France that were more religious that higher reproductive fertility, while secular Urbanus had lower fertility now, I wrote a piece for my substack, which a lot of listeners will know about it last March, which reported on data that basically the genetic character of Imperial Roman cities was legitimatley Pretty cosmopolitan in the way described by literary observers of the time like Juvenal whereas the rural areas likely remained, you know, just more indigenous is one way we could say it, more continuity to the Iron Age, to the Bronze Age. And after the fall of the Empire and the collapse of the cities, there was actually very little demographic impact on that sort of thing. If you look at the modern Italian gene pool, there is some impact from the eastern Mediterranean that's detectable - Eastern Mediterranean, North Africa in places like Sicily, Calabria, Puglia, a few areas like that, even though there is probably a minority, and then as you go north into central into Italy into Lotzio. Oh, definitely into Tuscany. There's just not that much impact. There's some but there's not. And so if you don't look at the ancient DNA, you might think, Well, I mean, Juvenal was exaggerating. But, you know, urban centers don't seem to be self reproducing. They seem to require constant immigration, you know, below replacement. And so with the fall of the Empire, the fall of that demographic core, even though the core was culturally influential, I guess my question here is, yes, the religious do have more offspring, but then we obviously have cultural change. There are these long range equilibria that we can predict. And yet, if in the present in the short term, it's always defined by churned switching and ideological shift. Don't you think that might mitigate or dampen the significance of these insights?
Yeah, definitely. I mean, I was what I was interested in were, was essentially two things. One is simply total fertility rate by religiosity, within religion, so I'm not interested as much in say Islam versus Christian versus Jew, I'm interested in conservative sects within Islam, or within Judaism versus liberal sects within each religion. So the first thing is, of course, fertility, but the second is retention. And the thing about retention, the sociological part of the book is that strict religions tend to have better retention than moderate religions. Because if you leave ultra orthodox Judaism, you're turning your back on your friends, your community on your entire life, you have to give away an entire life at work. So it's a much bigger step than just saying, I'm no longer going to be an Episcopalian. And so that's part of the reason is you get this combination, then a high retention and high birth rates. Now, of course, the other part of this, you know, from an evolutionary point of view, from a cultural, evolutionary point of view is It depends what the environment is. My argument is that in the kind of liberal, especially liberal, multicultural environments, that tends to favor religious expansion for a number of reasons. One is the - The fact that there is toleration of high birth rates amongst these groups, in a way that if, for example, it was we were living in China, they could just slap a two child maximum on on the Amish, for example, that kind of thing won't happen in a liberal multicultural society. Also the fact that when you get a sort of very strong secular liberalism, that tends to invigorates religious fundamentalism, which helps groups to actually erect higher boundaries to and you see that in the Jewish case, the ultra orthodox, segregation really only begins in the sort of 1950s as the rest of the Jewish population, you know, drifts in a sort of somewhat secular liberal direction. So it's this kind of the moment that we're in, which I think is quite conducive to the growth of what I call these 'world denying endogenous growth, sects', which don't proselytize, but largely grow by retaining members and high birth rates. And so that's a somewhat different phenomenon, really. So I guess my... the question you're asking is sort of a very long term one. And what Yeah, I agree, of course, there could be cultural change. We know that, you know, sort of some strict religions do moderate. But at the same time, we also know that religious fundamentalism is a reaction to strong secularism and liberalism. And that doesn't look like that's going to change. So again, this is why I would argue, at least in the kind of liberal sort of secular, multicultural environment, I think that's quite propitious for the growth of these strong, strict religions.
Yeah, and you have a lot of case studies that are fascinating. So I, you know, obviously I think a lot of listeners know about the divisions among the Jews from the Herati to modern Orthodox or what we call modern Orthodox in the United States. And I do want to explore that there's other groups like I think Laestadian Lutherans in Finland. I wanted to have you on I kind of want to talk to you because I think you're Canadian originally. You know, almost American. No offense there. But the weird thing about the United States is so you know, I am a person - I'm generation X that's what I'll say. So, you know, I grew up in the 80s and 90s, where there was a pretty flat. You know, 10% of Americans had no religion. That was the stylized fact of the 90s. Samuel Huntington wrote "Who We Are", I think, in what many must have written in the late 90s, early 2000s, .
2004 It came out. I reviewed it.
Okay. Yeah. And like, so but but the issue is, like, he did some of his research a little earlier. And, you know, he was talking about how America is really religious and, and how Asians are converting to Christianity, or Protestantism, particularly Christianity in general. And this was Bush, one, George W. Bush one. And I remember our young people were arguing, like, you know, we're going through a massive religious revival. But the irony was, we were on the precipice of like, now, the latest Pew survey shows 30% of Americans say that they have no religion. So that's a that's a 3x change, really, from the 1980s. You know, younger generation in particular, are rather secular. And so, you know, obviously, logically, I understand what you're saying. But I'm kind of curious how you feel, or if you saw this, I mean, America is still not as secular as a lot of Western European countries, but it's much closer to them than it was in the 1980s and 1990s. I mean, you know, as some as someone on the political right, personally, it's quite quite obvious that religious fundamentalism, religious conservatism, is a far weaker force on the right than it was even in 2008.
Yeah, I think that's right. I mean, I think there's a couple of things to unpack there. I mean, one is I definitely did. This trend was very visible by the time I wrote my book. I remember having a conversation with Robert Putnam, I had a year at Harvard, and he had to he did this book "American Grace", looking at trends in American religion, and one of the trends was that the millennials were, you know, something on the order of 30 -35%, no religion. He was arguing that this was a backlash to the religious right. I was saying, No, I think this is actually a longer running European style, secularization trend. And I do think ultimately, on that I've been been proven right. Now, What I would say, however, is okay, so that younger generation of Americans now looks like Europeans look. And so I think we can say that, that trend is is moving. But the point about what's happening with religion, generally in the West, is this religious restructuring, where the moderate or mainline middle is eroded heavily, and the stricter religions hold up. And secularism grows. And that's kind of the pattern we see in the US that is, it is the sort of mainline Protestants is the sort of moderate religions that have really been gutted the most in terms of numbers. And it's the sort of Pentecostal list and it's the strongest religion strictest theologies that have retained best. And I think that's sort of how I would see it going forward, this sort of bifurcation, if you're going to be religious, you're going to go for the full thing. Otherwise, you're more might as well be secular. So and we've seen that pattern to some extent in other religions as well, the hollowing out of the middle, but that doesn't necessarily change what's happening on the flank. So in terms of thinking about the religious fertility, say so we know in for Jews, the ultra orthodox are likely to be a majority of American and British Jews after 2050 Because they've got opposite demography. And also retention is particularly high amongst the latter. So it's really going to be these endogenous growth sects that are going to redefine in many ways the strict religions are the ones that are going to be redefining... Now, even though the general pattern could be one that the middle is hollowing out much faster than these flanks are reproducing demographically, it's still the case. Long term, I would argue that what you see is that that hollowing out process starts to slow down because there's only so many moderate religious people or traditional Catholics, let's say, and people who've just inherited their religion from their parents without thinking about it, those people are much more likely to secularize, but people who are once people sort of make that commitment and start to become an in dogmas community that rejects - explicitly rejects modernity, modernity and secularization. They I don't think are amenable to the same secularizing trends in In fact, you could argue the secularism in fact bolsters a lot of there fundamentalist claims by saying if we yield these red lines, then it's a slippery slope to secularism and look at look at that Gomorrah out there. So I think that um, I think we're seeing the bifurcation. Yes, we're seeing a decline as the middle hollows out. I don't think that actually gets at that sort of fundamentalist group I talk about. The other point, of course, is also the religious immigration, which is essentially on the back of ethnic change, you're getting the introduction of religion into secular spaces.
So in terms of the religious emigration, are you thinking more of Europe or the United States because some of the United States that are Latinos like, look, I'm gonna be frank, I don't know what I'm supposed to call them right now. I'm gonna go with Latino Okay. Okay, yeah, I just had to... So Latinos, you know, they seem to be secularizing actually, you know, minority going Protestant. And then St. And, you know, Asians, I just proportionate number of Asians are East Asian didn't really care about religion to be entirely Frank, too much. So are you thinking more of Europe when you're talking about migration?
Um, yeah, I am thinking more of Europe, although I think the US will, may eventually become a case like this as well. So if you look at Europe, in Britain, for example, the strongest, the most religious part of the country is London. Why? Because, you know, if you look inside a typical London church, it's something like two thirds, non white British, if I have those numbers about, right. So it's this sort of immigrant and diaspora, ethnic minority elements that are really bolstering religion in Britain. And that's true in Paris, too. So these get global gateway cities are places where religion - if you look at the census, has been stable, and it's dropped 40% and the rest of England, which is much more ethnically homogenous, I mean, that's not entirely true. But it's largely the case, that's just an example of where this... and in fact, there are some areas of London where you've seen a decrease in the share that are secular between the 2001 and 2011. Census is the very, very ethnically diverse areas where secular white British are being replaced by more religious, ethnic minorities. And so that's just an indication that at the front end of this process, where you have migration from the religious global south into the largely secular or increasingly secular, global north, focusing in on those global cities, you can see this pattern already emerging. So in the US case, you know, the population, the host population is relatively religious, it'll be much less religious in the future. And so one, one might expect that immigration in the US in the future will look European in the sense that you're going to have more religious people coming into a less religious place. I mean, leaving aside - depending... you know, there are certain locations in the US that are more religious, but I would have thought it would move closer to the European pattern.
Yeah, I mean, so I do want you to talk a little bit about I think you talked about this in the Middle East, like in cities in like Iran. And by the way, since the Arab Spring, which I think happened after your book came out. It's not like the Middle East has become super irreligious at all. But there has been a noticeable kind of decline in like, you know, 98%, or whatever is a religion is super important to like 80%, in a lot of these countries, you know, like Tunisia, for example. He recently there's been a survey that shows like Tunisia and a bunch of other Arab countries have so shown decrease in just religion, religious fervor, or at least avowed ferver. I know that in Bangladesh, where my family's from, there was an outbreak of atheism, shall we say, in the mid, mid teens that resulted in, you know, some machete attacks and other things against public atheists And so, you know, this is a dynamic situation. And do you can you talk about, like, how, you know, the rise of Islamism and how it was connected to the modernization of rural elites and sub elites, and their movement to the cities?
Yeah, so so the, what's interesting, there's a demographic component, I think, to the Middle East story, insofar as the cities tended to be relatively sort of secular or liberal. And, you know, places like Tehran and Istanbul and Algiers and these sorts of cities. And what happens is you then get a mass movement from the countryside into the cities, which dwarfs the original population in terms of its what starts out as slums, and those gradually converted into neighborhoods and those are people from the countryside who tend to be more religious. In addition, they are or at least some of the elites are reacting against the the urban secular... What are seen as somewhat European environments. And that kind of gives stimulus to movements like the Muslim Brotherhood. which, which really helped inaugurate Islamism. And and so do you got two things going on one is the sort of demographic submerging of secularism by rural religious migration. Secondly, the sort of awakening of this, the sort of Da'wah Islamic revival, Sunni Islamic revival, and also revolutionary, Shi'ism in Iran, and these movements, and then what, of course happens. So it's a combination of a sociological thing and a demographic thing. And then what you see, I guess, is, I guess what we seen as the playing out of that Islamic revival which, which arises partly due to the failure of secular Arabism and secular Persian nationalism, secular Turkish nationalism, and particularly after the Six Day War 1967, where four Arab Sunni Muslim countries were defeated in war against Israel, then what you see on the back of this is a sort of stimulus to political Islam and political Islam. Then incubates in Riyadh, where a lot of the refugees who've been chased out of their country - Islamist refugees from their own countries, incubate this, this idea, which then takes off in the writings of people like Qutb, and others, and then is sponsored by the Saudi state. And then you have this you have this period of Islamic revival Islam as the solution and so on. Which then, through the process of the Soviet Afghan war, you get the emergence of the al Qaeda and that then gives gives the stimulus to Salafi jihadist I think, then, what's happened since is probably an exhaustion of that trend. So I mean, that's what's going on politically. I didn't find... in terms of demography in terms of birth rate differences, because you don't have you haven't had much of a secular liberal Muslim population, we haven't had the data to show it. I mean, I did have some data in the World Value Survey that suggested that the women who are most opposed to Sharia law, who lived in urban areas had lower birth rates than women who are most supportive of Sharia law, Sharia law as the law of the land. So there's already I think, I think the same phenomenon exists within Muslim countries. And it's perhaps not as developed as in Judaism or Christianity, but I think it will emerge. But it's very interesting what you say declining religiosity, particularly in some of those North African countries. If that continues, if you really do get secularization, then I would imagine the same kind of pattern that we see in the other Abrahamic faiths will take hold where you have this sort of strict religious, high fertility, relatively strong boundaries to the rest of the world group emerging. And then a hollowing out of the middle and a growth of the secular is I mean, that that would be the pattern if if secularism does take off in the Muslim world.
Yeah, I want to, I want to for the listener, give some perspective about these demographic trends and how big these you know, so, you know, we in the West, I mean, most of the listeners are in the West, not all, you know, we're used to cities and, and population growth and all this stuff. But, you know, if you look at the top, I don't know, like, after like Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, if you look at the big cities in China, we don't recognize them because they got so big, so quickly. And they're just they don't have like a historical footprint. So my my family's from Bangladesh, the population in 1971, was 68 million in Bangladesh. That was the year of independence, right? The population today is 161 million. So I mean, that that's not too shabby more than 2x. Right. So So Dhaka, my parents lived in Dhaka in 1970. Dockers population was 1,400,000 in 1970. Today, its population is 21 million. Wow. Yeah. So that's obviously not through birth rates. In fact, like my mom has more, except for one of her brothers. She has more children, six brothers, one of her brothers, she has more children. She had four children. She's lived in the United States most your life at this point. So the fertility rate Dhaka itself is not I mean, I know for a fact it has to be some fertility since Bangladesh is now at like replacement. But, you know, we're talking, you know, we're talking like 15x growth in in like a place that's to 2.5x. So, where do those excess people came come from? Why do they come from the rural areas? The vast majority of people in Dhaka today, Dhaka has doubled in population since the year 2000. So where are those people come from? I mean, they must come from rural areas. So you have this whole alien - I don't wanna say alien, but I mean, because we're all Bengali, whatever. But they're from the rural areas, they've come to the urban areas, things are changing. And so some of these dynamics that you're talking about, they're due to rates of growth and urbanization, that people in Europe and the United States just can't imagine because it happened in their families want to 200 years ago.
Well, yeah, I mean, migration and the growth of mega cities is one of the major demographic trends, that we're going to be looking at being another as, of course, the aging of the developed world. And the north - the growth in south to north migration. And so these are just but but, you know, the explosive growth, I mean, if you, one stat that we can just look at is 1950 - two and a half Europeans and Westerners for every African, every inhabitant of the African continent. 2050, I think was four to one the other way for Africans for every European, so so this going from, you know, two and a half to one, two, on the other hand, one to four, and with some projections of, you know, in terms of Africa, by the end of the century, there are some projections that would say 4 billion in a world where, you know, the developed world will have population will have declined substantially. So, yeah, I mean, we're definitely seeing major shifts, and that's, of course, magnified in the major cities, which are, you know, and we could look at cities like Lagos, for example, or, yeah, I mean, they're just the growth of these mega cities is going to be one of the features of the coming decades. And that the one of the questions, of course, is as the places like Ethiopia, Congo, Nigeria, become population superpowers, and Russia, and other places in the developed world, you start to see decline, will that affect global balances of power? I mean, that's a question political demographers talk about. But there's all kinds of complications, it's not so simple. But yeah, I mean, these changes are dramatic. And so one of the things I was interested in was more the compositional differences. So it might be something like so if you look at the rise of the religious right in the US, I mean, the growth of evangelical Christianity, according to an important paper, by Andrew Greeley, and Melissa, - Melissa Wilde and Michael Howard was that three quarters of that growth was demographic that that evangelicals had an extra child compared to mainline Protestants. And so they came to form a much larger, something like, you know, a third of white Protestants in amongst those born in 1900, to almost two thirds amongst those born in 1970. That's just an indication of, of the kinds of impact that even a one child difference maintained over several generations can have. And so I think if we're talking about a world where we've got total fertility rates that are well below replacement, and only seeming to be going lower in most developed countries, you know, who are going to be tomorrow's people, which which, by the way, is the title of a new book, "Tomorrow's People" the title of a book, upcoming book by Paul Moreland. And it does raise the interesting question, who will populate, you know, the planet really going forward? And, you know, in terms of religion, for example.
Yeah, I wanna, I want to highlight for the listeners, you know, something that I got from your book. And, you know, you're talking about compounding growth, I mean, you know, you can just put it in a spreadsheet or do an R plot, I mean, people who are curious should do it instead of just talking. But, you know, you have a situation in these developed societies, and actually, since 2010, developing societies, of sub replacement fertility. But this is the mean, this is the average, that's the median. So if you have an average sub replacement fertility, you have variation within that population, all of a sudden, if that variation is heritable, in some way, and here, I don't mean genetic, but I mean, more colloquially, heritable within within the structure of the population. You can have within several generations a radical difference between those who have and those who don't have children. So I mean, the you know, a contrasting situation, say in Nigeria, there is probably some variation in religiosity in Nigeria, there isn't all societies it's a relatively religious society for various reasons. But you know, total fertility rate is still like four or five I think it's still relatively high. And so even though the religious have more children than non religious, maybe they have like 25% More children, right. And then you compare it to a situation. So let's let's talk about Finland, which is Sub right now Finland fertility I think is 1.49. I think it's just like recently lifted out. I think it was a little higher when you were writing your book in 2010. But there's the Laestadian. There's fundamentalist reformist Pietistic Lutheran sect, they have a lot of kids. And so you could have a situation where if the Laestadian have like two, three times more kids than the average Finn, all of a sudden it compounds over time, right?
Yeah, exactly. I mean, the Laestadian are - I mean, one thing with them is that they have a higher out marriage rate than other endogenous growth sects, so they're not as world denying, or as mainstream denying as others. So that is going to probably blunt their capacity to kind of grow as a share, I mean, they're still going to make a major impact because of their high birth rate. But you have another group in the Netherlands, the Orthodox Calvinists who have something like twice the birth rate of other Dutch and, and so hence, their areas of settlement are the youngest parts of the country. And there are parts of, you know, their parts. I lived in northern Alberta in Canada for a while. And there's some traditionalist Mennonite communities up there like La Crete, which again, are some of the fastest growing youngest communities in the country. You know, some of the land in what you see are Hutterites and Amish now buying up land in rural Ontario, for example, that's being vacated by descendants of older farming stock, who are now drifting away. So you've got these patterns that are emerging, if you look for them closely, which I think straws in the wind of what might be occurring down the road, you know, I think, according Yeah, rough back of the envelope projection, you know, mid 2200s, you got 300 million Amish in the United States. Now, of course, the US will be a lot depends on whether these world denying sects are able to maintain their high birth rates and high retention over multiple generations, but the Amish have been having high birth rates for a 100 years, I suppose the differences as you say, you know, when everybody is poor, and agricultural, everybody's having lots of children, there's not much selection going on on the basis of religiosity. And certainly, it's once you have, first of all, contraception means that the number of children you have contraception plus urbanization, means the number of children you have is increasingly not determined by material circumstances or availability of contraception, it's a choice. And increasingly, as fertility becomes a choice, culture starts to matter more in determining family size, as well as genetics, which I can talk about in a minute. So the fact then what this means is religion becomes more important. And if you look today, at global TFR data, you can see that it's in the western more developed countries that religiosity matters more, whereas in the developing world, women's education, those classic variables are more important. So religion is becoming a more important differentiator of fertility in developed societies. And I think that's an indicator again, of where things might be going. Now, it's only certain places where we've seen this have a big compositional impact on the population. So Israel, for example, it's shift to the right religiously, I believe, has a very strong demographic component to it. I mean, the increase in the ultra orthodox and to some extent, the modern Orthodox has has been a major factor in the, in that society's distinct trajectory from other Western societies.
Yeah, um, so we've talked to, you know, alluded to a couple of times about Jews. And the ultra orthodox, the Haredi, and then the modern Orthodox, you know, I think in Israel called National Religious. And then obviously, you have, you know, more liberal Jewish sect groups like the reformed Jews that are very big in the United States, although less big and much of the rest of the world. And then secular Jews who still identify as Jewish culturally, in Israel, they'd still keep kosher, because, you know, it's the law basically, but they're not particularly pious or devout. So here, you have a situation where you have massive, massive reproductive differences between the different groups and kind of a rank order fashion from, you know, ultra orthodox down to secular, although in Israel, the fertility even for secular Jews is above replacement, which is pretty weird. I, you know, I don't know if this is true. I don't know if this was in your book, I think it probably was, but, you know, Israel had an experiment in the 2000s, where they reduce the subsidy for children. And they immediately saw Arab fertility, Arab Muslim fertility, in particular, within Israel. Israeli Arabs, they dropped, but the ultra orthodox their fertility did not drop the and they just got poor because they are living off subsidy to quite a great extent. And so the The inference here is the ultra orthodox were having children, for ideological reasons insensitive to economic, economic inputs, economic variables, whereas the Israeli Arabs were much more sensitive to economic variables. So, you know, we have a situation here where the ultra orthodox have gone from a couple of percent of the population in, say, 1950, to now in 2020, they're on the order of 10% of the population at least. And, you know, Jews are 75-80% of Israel's population. So they're more than 70, more than 10% of the Jews, and of the Orthodox Jews of the what we would call Orthodox Jews in the English speaking world, religious Jews. You know, they're like, 20 to 30%. Now, so that's pretty weird. Can you talk a little about Jewish demographics, you're talking about London, which you had some shocking facts from 2010, which, you know, I'm sure a lot of the kids that you are talking about in 2010. Now have kids. So can you talk about that a little?
Well, yeah, I think that Judaism is the most advanced in this sort of what we might think about as the potential shape of demography in the future. In particular, in Abrahamic societies that you see the you see a very large difference between, you know, an endogenous growth sect, which is the ultra orthodox Jews, where you have fertility, depending on the country and the time, it's sort of between five and a half to seven and a half children, you don't see a decline in total fertility rates over time. So one of the points that I make is that, you know, historically, we're used to thinking about the demographic transition people no longer needing labor to work the land, children becoming costly in cities, contraception, blah, blah, blah, we're used to thinking about this, in terms of economic development and human development, leading to lower fertility. The point about strict religious fertility that's associated with World denying sects is that it is because it is cultural, it is independent of these largely independent of material factors. So ultra orthodox women, they have access to health care, they have access to all of the modern conveniences, education, they're well educated in all of these things. So that's not really affecting their fertility rates. So I think in a world where, in what's called Second demographic transition theory, it's these cultural factors that are much more important in determining fertility rates, at least amongst these groups. And so I think that's one thing to bear in mind. So in terms of the, the rate of the change that that's happening in terms of the composition of the observant Jewish population, I think I mentioned in Britain in the US, the predictions are that after 2050, over half of observing Jews are going to be ultra orthodox. If you look at the Israel, you look at the Jewish school system in the amongst first graders, it's gone from a few percent, ultra orthodox in 1960, to a third of the first grade class that is ultra orthodox. So that is an absolutely massive change. Now, things are gonna change a bit faster in the diaspora than in Israel itself. But certainly forecasting ahead with current rates of religious retention, one would have to say that Israel would become majority ultra orthodox now this is a big debate, and people keep saying, Oh, no, there's growing apostasy and more ultra-orthodox are leaving. And this is a very tough thing to get good accurate data on. But given the the model of the strict religious community that has high birth rates and grows through - grows internally and directs high boundaries to the rest of the world, I mean, that seems to be a very successful model for continual rapid growth. I mean, if you look at the US, consistently, fastest growing religious groups, you know, how to Hutterites and Amish are always among them, because it's just a more certain way to grow. Whereas look at the Mormons who relied a lot on - Yes, they have an element of pronatal ism, but they also relied heavily on conversion. And that's really sort of tanked in the last, I don't know, 1020 years so that that model of growing 40% per decade has really stalled. I mean, there were people who said, Well, look at the Mormons, they're, they're maintaining these sort of biblical levels of growth that that - So an example would be if you look at Christianity, you know, there were, I think, in the year 30 ad, there were 40 converts. And in the year 300 when Constantine made Christianity, the religion of the Roman Empire that had grown to, I think 6 million and at a growth rate of 40%. And so that was the growth rate of the Mormons, but it's really sort of tailed off. And I think whereas on the other hand, the model that relies just on demography, I think is a much more successful model.
Yeah, You keep using the word endogenous growth. And I should probably set clarify for listeners, you know, who are not demographers that here you're you're alluding to the fact that you have kind of like a closed group, a closed system, and you have a parameter as a growth rate parameter. That's really driven by reproductive fertility, right. And so you're saying this reproductive fertility parameter is more insensitive to variation over time temporal variation than the Mormon. So Mormons did have high fertility, they're going through fertility transition, I don't want to get into the details of like, you know, what is their fertility depending on what proxies you use, but they also relied extensively on conversion, and the conversion parameter. It's not, it just there's a lot of churn. There's a lot of defection. I know this. Personally, I grew up in a Mormon area in the United States. A lot of the people that I grew up with that were very devout, they are no longer Mormon, although many of them are culturally Mormon, they continue to go to church, because what else are they going to do on Sundays, their children know that their parents don't believe so you're going to have defection in a non cultural sense soon as well, in subsequent generations. And in the 1980s 1990s, Rodney Stark, I think he's at Baylor right now. You know, he wrote a lot of books on religion, and one of his things are like, you know, Mormonism is going to be the next great religion. And I do remember thinking at the time, intuitively, that you know, you have a situation where if you're relying on conversions, you have the low hanging fruit. And then as you expand outward, like, why do you assume that your conversion, you know, rate is going to continue to stay the same, because there's gonna be more and more people were just not interested in your religion for various reasons, a lot of these Mormon conversions happen through social networks. And if your social network is tapped out, I mean, obviously, you can reach a limit. And now the Mormons are being subjected to extremely strong churn. I think that churn the defection as well as like the conversion in, I think that's partly just kind of an equilibrium state where the Mormons are at the outward edge of their network of possible converts. And so they're getting more marginal converts, and a lot of those people are slipping out. And then there's always been a constant drip drip out of, you know, historically Mormon families that just leave the religion, right. And so this is a complicated model, whereas the model you're talking about, is, you know, just be fruitful and multiply. While I mean, you know, as long as the community maintains the morals maintains the values, and is relatively sealed in and it's losing people, but there aren't people coming in who are changing the values. It's more stable. This is your argument, right?
Yeah, I think that groups that open up to proselytism, and in conversion, in order to convert, you have to have contacts with the with the outside, which means that you can't reject modernity, and the world as totally as, as some of the world denying sects do. And for that reason, I think that actually opens the group up to the secularizing process. I mean, Mormons are kind of a, they're in this gray zone where they do have some features, this, this sense of being persecuted of kind of going off to Utah, and of course, the Utah and I guess a bit of Idaho and Nevada, that kind of, if you like where Mormonism is also an ethnic origin, linked to the original settlers, I mean, that has traditionally I suppose, had the the endogenous growth from higher birth rates about one child more than than the average it's they've stayed about one child higher than the US wide average for some time. But I think that emphasis on conversion meant that they never really did go the full world denying route. I mean, what I would expect to see perhaps is if the current trends, if they do - are in fact accurate, and we are seeing this kind of liberal drift or or secularizing drift amongst the Mormons that you'd expect to see more of a, a ... again, that process of religious restructuring, hollowing out of the middle, this sort of moderate Mormons drifting away, leaving a harder core, which then I would suspect would play the role of an endogenous growth sect, but but for a time, you'll see a significant drop in in Mormon birth rates as that middle, that large middle kind of hollows out. But then we might move to a situation where you have more of a sort of hardcore remaining and that's now starting to expand through the same mechanism of growing your own in a way
So, throughout this conversation, you kept talking about the Abrahamic religions and, you know, so for the listeners out there who are sleeping under a rock Abrahamic religions just means Islam, Christianity and Judaism. And, you know, we're talking mostly about Western societies where you have good demographic data, we know longitudinal, like long term demographic data You know, but about half the world well, like what percentage of is about half the world's populations are not Abrahamic. Is that correct? Yeah. Something like, oh,
yeah, it's about that. Yeah. Yeah.
So okay. So you know, we're talking about like India with the Hindus and China and East Asia and Japan and what's going on there like, Do you have any thoughts? I'm just curious.
Well, I Okay, so I don't we don't see a lot of this, you know, the doctrinal differences within these religions, the theological differences around pronatalism, and the role of women, at least, I'm not able to discern this sort of linked to differences in fertility in those countries. The other thing is, I mean, there's another dynamic around ethno religion where religion serves as a marker of ethnicity or nationhood, you know, that can actually protect against secularization. It's called the cultural defense thesis. So ethnic minorities in Britain, for example, who are non Christian tend, their religion tends to be transmitted successfully to their children in a way that isn't true of Christians, and maybe countries. So if you think of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, or Hinduism In India, you know that these are integral to a kind of national identity, and that might at least maintain identification with the religion even if it doesn't drive. But that's a different process, that simply means secularism won't occur. And so maybe if secularization isn't happening in a big way, fundamentalism will also be muted, because fundamentalism is partially a reaction to secularism. So unless you have significant secularization, oddly, the fundamentalism may be muted. So I guess maybe until those societies start to see significant secularizing movements, it's then unlikely you'd get this sort of attempt to sort of boil religion down to the fundamentals to sort of start to erect some red lines against the rest of society, which is the kind of process you need in order to form these endogenous growth sects. So I don't I guess I haven't seen as much of that in the non Abrahamic world as in the Abrahamic world.
Well, I mean, you know, in particular, you know, I'm curious about China's so, you know, the thing with China is, you know, somepeople say oh it's an atheist society, I think that's a little, that's a little much, but it's had a different take on religion than Western societies and highly confessional societies. And even though it's officially an atheist state, there's still a lot of religious activity going on. Now, some of the Christians are causing problems, but really, like, that's not the only dynamic. There's a lot of, you know, Buddhist temples are seeing a lot of people show up traditional Taoism, all these other things? And do you think that just the cultural matrix is outside of the your model system?
Well, it'll be interesting to see if, you know, practicing Christians in China, I mean, I would love to know their fertility compared to compared to the very low fertility of their neighbors. Um, one of the things we've seen, say, in Latin America, with Pentecostalism, we don't see a large fertility premium. Again, these religions that are proselytizing, that might have a link to somehow making your life more prosperous, and so on, don't seem to be perhaps as associated with higher fertility. But of course, time will tell I wouldn't say we have good enough data to really tease out because you have two things. One is the impact of theology itself, and beliefs about women's roles and pronatalism. And the second is congregational participation. Some of the studies in the US, for example, find that it's the congregational participation. And that really sort of gives the fertility premium more than just the belief. Although I think in the case of the endogenous growth sects these these fundamentalist sects, I think the theology also matters quite a bit in the communion shapes the community norms. So yeah, I guess the question with China would be, you know, does the data show that, particularly regular attenders, are able to sort of leverage some of that, and part of that is simply community support, there's a network of mothers that could maybe do childcare serve as role models. But whether that then leads to a higher birth rate, I would suspect, it would eventually have been because the data we see in other developed countries simply shows that regular attendance is associated with sort of sort of a quarter to a half child premium over non religion and that that I would I can't quite see why that wouldn't obtain also in China.
Yeah, so I'm actually I'm checking as we're alking a paper on Korea, which is an interesting case. It is a paper that shows like, you know, they have some good data there "Paradox of change: religion and fertility decline in South Korea". And I will say descriptively, the fertility is low for all the different groups and Korea is about 25%, Protestant, you know, maybe 25% 20% Buddhist and then it's got like 10 15% Catholic now with the residual being non religious. And it's interesting, like the fertility rates right now in 2015. Their fertility rate for non affiliate is 1.13. That tends to be younger, actually. So I think that could be one explanation there. But Buddhist 1.133 So, Catholics 1.16, Protestant 1.28 Now, one thing with Catholics, I do want to say in Korea, is there a notably upper middle class, more well educated group, there's the last generation, there's been a little bit of a decline in the social status of Protestants because they're seen as culturally more disruptive, whereas Catholics are progressive insofar as they're Christian. So that seems more modern religion, but they're not as you know, adversarial towards other groups in South Korea. So that might explain what's going on there. But that's, that's just to me, that's interesting, because in South Korea, you do have this religious fundamentalist Protestant group that sees itself as different from the pagan majority, to the point of, you know, they, they have committed acts of iconoclasm against historic Buddhist temples, for example. But they don't seem to have these strong, you know, fertility differences.
Well, I think, yeah, I think there would be very important to dig into that Protestant group to look at the theological gradations. And, you know, it's worth saying that it's not, It partly depends on what the theology is, I mean, if it's prosperity, gospel proselytization, and it's not clear that's going to necessarily lead to a higher total fertility rate. So I think what I'd want to see is some sort of differentiation by theology and by religious practice, to look at the impact of both on that, I mean, the sort of matrix where you really get a high fertility is where you have this fundamentalism effect, where you're reacting against the mainstream of society as being somehow fallen, and then that's, that's the risk that we're, if we don't sort of erect these red lines, then we're going to be sliding into this, this pit of sin. And so, you know, it's that kind of theology allied with some sort of, yeah, erecting barriers against the world, not necessarily fully world denying, but definitely trying to sort of create an us and a them that is theologically defined, not necessarily denominationally defined, but theologically defined. So you're against the lax Protestant as much as you are against the Buddhist, where's just the inter religious, Catholic versus Protestant versus Buddhist that that wouldn't actually give you your higher fertility, it would have to be fundamentalist Protestants against other liberal Protestants, and that that kind of dynamic would be what would would sort of generate a higher fertility. But the other thing I would say is that we'd want to know, information on Congress, you know, weekly, regular attenders, fertility versus nominals. I mean, that's, that's should be there should be some difference in that too.
Well, okay, so it's been I don't know, you probably started working on this book 15 years ago, was published more than 10 years ago. Now. What are the biggest takeaways in terms of you're looking in the world in the early 2020s? This is what you were predicting this, not what you were predicting, you don't know yet.
Everything I've seen every paper I've seen, by and large has, you know, reflects all the assumptions that I held back then. I mean, it's about 10 years ago, but the role of religiosity as a predictor of higher fertility in developed countries has, if anything, the papers I've seen have shown that's only been rising. The endogenous growth sects have largely been maintaining their fertility and retention rates. I mean, there's some arguments over whether the slippage in the ultra orthodox Jews has increased in Israel. That's a debate of what where the data's maybe not as good as we would like. The one big change perhaps again, perhaps is is the Mormons. Moving into that, you know, somewhat more, can you know, are they converging with the mainstream US total fertility rate? What's going on secularization? So that is a change. But by and large, I think the overall pattern and if you look at the global Cities and what's happening with religion, the religious vitality of immigrant gateway cities in Europe? I mean, all of that. Yeah, it just seems to sort of reinforce the things that I was talking about. So no, I don't actually see any reason to, to really alter my prediction, the long term prediction anyway, the one, the one thing that is interesting we haven't talked about is this whole idea of genetics, because there are some papers suggesting that the desire to have children has a heritable component. And therefore, you could imagine that if if you had a purely secular population, that at some point of shrinkage, some of the people who had the genes to want to have more children would eventually start to take over the the gene pool, so that but I don't, you know, that has nothing to do with religion, I don't know how much variation there is, and how far the decline would have to go before those genes would assert themselves, that's something you might have an opinion on.
Yeah, traditionally, the heritability and so this heritability, not in the colloquial sense, but in a genetic sense of fitness, you know, has actually been pretty low, because it's one of those issues where the stylized fact is, if fitness itself is heritable, there's going to be extremely strong selection on that to get rid of that heritability, because, you know, it's kind of tautological, like, if you have a lot of children, I mean, that's your going to be the future. The propensity to not have children is not passed on to the next generation, because there is no next generation. And so the people you see around, you should be filtered and see through through the filter of selection. But the issue is, you know, you have mutations, you have cultural factors, you have all these things, obviously, like the modern secularizing, urbanizing world was not the environment of evolutionary adaptiveness. So, the personality traits that were conducive to reproductive output, you know, 1000 years ago, 10,000 years ago, a million years ago, may not be conducive to reproductive output now, it might be a different type of personality. So, for example, like, I have three children, and I can tell you in comparison to many of people of my own, like socio economic background, generally, you know, academic academic adjacent, you know, there are certain trade offs that I've made my life that they refuse, or they just don't really want to make in their life, right? Like, like travel or like certain consumption goods. This is obviously not something that was a big deal 1000 years ago, because it wasn't possible for most, you know, and so now you're having selection on different sorts of preferences, you know, different things going on here. And so, you know, in the long term, we can see that sort of thing. But right now, obviously, you know, I think people do underestimate the long term impact of biological evolution for obvious reasons, because the long term it's way outside of your time horizon. Right now, though, obviously, the cultural proteanism is just way, way more powerful. And it's, you know, out running it. And so you have these dual inheritance theories of biology, and culture and Gene culture, evolution. And this all really matters. Unfortunately, with the biological stuff, I think, you know, the predictions are going to be far enough in the future that, unlike your predictions, they can't be validated as easily. But obviously, that is a factor there. And there are people who are looking at reproductive fertility, and heritability and all these things in various societies. So I think in the next 10 years, we will have a little bit more insight on that. You know, I want to talk a little bit about your next book, "White Shift" and the reaction, the thesis and the reaction to it. Can you talk a little bit about that for the listener?
Yeah. So this is really, again, shifting gears, I've sort of done two things. Typically, I've looked at ethnic changes, ethnic conflicts. And then on the other hand, the religious book is more within an ethnic group differences on the basis of religion. But there's my more recent book kind of returns to what was my work in my first book, "The Rise and Fall of Anglo America", which is looking a lot at the kind of confluence between immigration, ethnic change and national identity. And in this book, yeah, I mean, what I'm arguing is that the rise of national populism emerging strongly post 2014. It but but even earlier, arguably, is is tied very much to ethnic change within Western countries. And so it's that ethnic change, which is sort of fundamental to understanding why we're seeing the rise of national populism. And what then occurs is you have this rise of national populism as a result of two things. One is of course, The response to that a section of the population for sort of psychological and to some degree cultural reasons mainly wants to have lower, reduced rates of ethnic change. The ideological evolution of Western societies has been such that we've seen the rise of a kind of left liberalism, which frowns on the sort of ethno traditionalism of wanting to retain particular ethnic compositions through immigration restriction. What that means is that only those who are willing to cross the taboo to cross the red lines against talking about this sort of thing, are then able to sort of tap into that demand. And so it's a bit like a department store that only wants to sell one pair of pants is the communist department store. Well, a black market will pop up selling jeans and other things people want to buy. And similarly when, let's say none of the main Swedish parties want to talk about immigration levels in the country. The only people who will talk about it are the Sweden Democrats who will be pariahs in those elite circles, but are, you know, they wound up with as much as 25 30% of the vote. And so populace are kind of the political entrepreneurs like the black marketeers or economic entrepreneurs that have been willing to transgress a taboo. And paradoxically, therefore, actually, the existence of some of these politically correct taboos, has actually helped to create populism. And this is one of the other messages as you got the ethnic change, but then you also have these limits on what politicians are able to respectably discuss and that that, in that sort of opens the terrain for populism that those two forces combined. And then since what we've seen is of course, a backlash to the backlash if you like, so we've kind of seen as a left wing cultural backlash to the right wing backlash. And the left wing backlash is kind of a sort of an attempt to Yeah, essentially to apply this anti racist moral framework to the politics of immigration restriction. And and now we're kind of into a kind of recursive pattern where each side is playing off the other. And so we get this this incredible polarization, which is not just in the US, I would argue, actually, you can see even in Canada, if you look at data on immigration attitudes, that's become much much more sorted by political affiliation than it was even five even in 2015. So and that's happening in Britain as well. So we're starting to see this alignment of these ethno you know, let us say people who like change and those who don't like ethnic change lining up politically different parties.
Yeah, I mean, so obviously, you know, Trump that happened. And now you know, we have this Eric Zemmore I think, in France making some explicit appeals I don't think Boris Johnson is is like that yet, but you know, people like this are popping up. So I think I listened to some of your conversation with with Ezra Klein and some other people I got the sense the your your very scholarly inquiry into this very subject and acknowledging its existence without excessive denunciatory tones caused problems or discomfort. Am I wrong?
No, you're not. I mean, although I had a really good conversation with Ezra actually who's who's was was quite open minded. But I think that you know, more in print and more in Britain, I think there have been, you know, people, I mean, the nub of the issue is that from my- and if you look at the psychology data, and Karen Steiners, work on authoritarian, the authoritarian dynamic really explores as well. But whether you see difference as disorder, or as in some way, interesting is highly heritable. And Jonathan Hyde has talked about this as well. Whether you see change as loss, or as some kind of stimulation, again, is highly heritable. These things are all connected to your views on something like immigration and ethnic change. So there is for example, a link between supporting a dress code in a tennis tournament. So having a neat having a sort of neat room or desk. And actually your views on immigration. I mean, it's not a massive correlation, but it's sort of indicates a certain psychological pathways and therefore, when it comes to thinking about, for example, immigration policies and ethnic change the view to tends to be I would say, you know, the elite liberal view tends to be well, you're either open or you're closed, you know, you're you're one of the open, or you're one of the closed. And I'm quite critical of that approach. I mean, my view is well. Actually, there is variation here. Some people, it's not open, close, but I prefer to see it as faster versus slower change some, you know, very few people say zero immigration, it's just a question of what is the number and being able to have that conversation is extremely difficult in Western liberal societies, because there's a sort of expansion in the conception of racism from dislike and hatred of the other to attachment to to in group into characteristics of a particular country, and wanting those not to change as quickly. And so I was trying to say, actually, we need to open up a space to talk about pace, we need to find an accommodation between the people who want things to move faster, and those who want things to move slower, including in ethno cultural terms. And that is just very difficult to swallow for a significant number of people on the left in particular, even though they will acknowledge that actually, there has to be some sort of rate of change, and that perhaps people's anxieties, we can listen to them, but but we can't actually do anything about them. And so that's kind of the some of the differences that I was having with some of these people. And so, so my view is just yet I mean, you can't, I don't think these are pathological. And if you look at the psychology literature, for example, the attachment to own group and hatred of the out group are essentially uncorrelated dispositions, unless you have, you know, ethnic conflict or some zero sum struggle that by and large, if you look at the American national election study, you know, a white American who's more attached to being white is not cooler towards black people than a white American who's less attached to being white, in general. So we I'm sort of urging more of a sort of differentiation between people's attachments and claims made about people's dislike and hatred about groups or superiority. I think those things have become squashed together in a way that's very unproductive for discussion, we need to be able, I think, to tease them apart. And to create room I think conversations about the appropriate pace of change. And if we actually try and shut these conversations down. What that does is it just creates room for populist and then what actually happens is the populist come in. So the Sweden Democrats said, Yeah, we're going to reduce immigration in Sweden, they came in on whatever it was 25% in the polls, and then all of a sudden, the mainstream Party say, oh, yeah, actually, we better talk about this, too. Right. So so they then wind up following anyway, I just think, in a way, it would be healthier to have a more kind of a discussion that sort of allowed for people to have different views on the pace of change, and then come to an accommodation a bit like, higher and lower taxes.
Yeah, yeah, that's interesting. I mean, so in the context of America, in particular, although I think this has spread to Canada and the UK in various ways, the Great Awokening has made, you know, for the listeners who don't know, the Great Awokening is last five years in particular, since I mean, to some extent amplified with Black Lives Matter, the idea of the acceptable ideas that one can even moot as existing has narrowed a lot. And so I do wonder, after BLM, like, if "White Shift" had come out a little later, how the reaction would be, like, isn't even acceptable to you know, have an author on where the title of the book is called "White Shift"? You know, I don't I don't know. It's just, it seems like there's a lot of public implicit censorship going on, in terms of what is acceptable to even acknowledge.
Yeah, I think that post BLM I mean, the Great Awokening had already begun at the time that I, my book came out but but you know, the Floyd moment hadn't hadn't hit. And I think that certainly did lead again to that tightening of the Overton window of acceptable debate. I think since there's now people have kind of been able to take a distance on the movement, and I think there's now it's starting to sort of become acceptable to criticize it. The debate around immigration... I mean, it's kind of weird because the COVID the pandemic, what that does is it reduces the rate of immigrantion - I mean, the rate of immigration is heavily correlated with the rising salience of the immigration issue, which is heavily correlated with the rise of populism. Once you got with the pandemic is a sort of depression of the number, you know, immigration sort of dropped dramatically. And so the issue sort of fell off the raydar are to some degree now that it looks like the pandemic maybe who knows fading and the economic worries around it. When the economy is a driving issue, I would argue that immigration is lower, it tends to be put into the shade and populism doesn't benefit as much populism tends to benefit more at least recently, from people not thinking about the economy. So they will then start to think more about culture. So I guess I wrote the book at a time when, yeah, I guess that the pandemic has sort of dampened concern and reduce some of the fuel for for national populism. Once the - you know, if the pandemic abates, the plane start to fly again, the migration levels start to go up again, then I think this, this politics is going to be right back with us. And what's happened in Britain, even with by American standards, relatively small numbers crossing the English Channel has been enough now to move the immigration up to position number one amongst conservative voters and starting to, I think, create some of the dynamics that we saw prior to the Brexit votes. So but but yeah, I think, you know, the the Great Awokening, it certainly puts pressure on on people like me who work in in kind of liberal institutions. But I think because of the growing polarization of the comment space, that one, if you are in part of that part of the comment space that is at least not subject as strongly to these norms then, or at least to being cancelled, and I suppose you can still talk about it. I'm trying to think about whether - whether the Overton Window is narrower now than it was then. And I'm not I'm not sure, actually, I think maybe slightly, but I also think, you know, there's also more criticism of wokeness in the mainstream media. And so that is partly a trend that's moving in the other direction. So yeah, I'm not 100% sure what I would answer on that.
All right. I mean, so the last question I want to ask is, you are at Birkbeck College and University College London. So I believe this is in London. So you're a Canadian guy. You obviously know a lot about the United States, because you know, you live in the English speaking world, and America looms large, right, but you live in the UK where they speak English, but they're not American. Not to sound like chauvinistic. That's just weird to me, but you know, whatever. I know that they're English. So of course, they speak English. What do you see in terms of like, the cultural differences that you've observed? Do you think that you have some insights into American society that Americans themselves would not have? If you're an academic? I don't know. Somewhere in the in the United States? At some research, one university, you know, what do you see from the view from London as a non British person yourself?
Yeah, that's a really interesting question, I would say it does give you a certain insight. So you can see that, so one of the things I see is that your American politics is becoming looks to be becoming more European. And that might not be evident to somebody living in the United States. So for example, and this is the argument I made in the book, Trump is actually more of a European style national populist, and whereas a figure like George W. Bush, and a movement, like the Christian coalition of the religious right is very, very foreign to to European politics, whereas a politician saying we've got to reduce immigration, dramatically am and who, who, who sort of talks, perhaps in nostalgic terms about the ethnic composition of the country and the parent, you know, that kind of thing is much more recognizably European. I think. That's one observation that I would make. The other observation that I could make is, is that these issues around ethno cultural change in the US - I think were muted by the rise of the religious right, the rise of Neo conservative hawkishness The brand of conservatism that was there in the US in the, the 90s. And 2000s. Kind of actually oddly deflected attention away from the issue of immigration and ethno cultural change. And whereas in Europe, there's a very close correspondence, say, between increases in immigration, particularly illegal immigration, and the rise of populism is a very, there's a relatively close link in the US case, there's kind of a, a delayed effect, you know, where you had this big change starting in the 1980s and 90s. You know, there were things going on in California with Prop, you know, 187, but that didn't actually have an impact on national politics for like 20 years. And I think part of the reason is because these other issues were dominant in right wing media, including Fox News, which really did not go after immigration in a serious way until pretty close to when Trump was elected. And so you can see only now that the US now seems to be kind of approximating more closer, more closely to that European pattern, a lot of what's happening with Trump, Americans would see a sort of sui generis to to America, but actually looks very similar in many ways to what's happening in Europe.
Wait, so you're, what you're trying to tell me is, we are not this, we are becoming less of a special exceptional country, and we're becoming more like the rest of the world?
I think so. And I also think, and I've looked at some data on, you know, the culture war, for example, there's the influences both ways. So the impact of the US now on Europe, the trends from the US around wokeness, anti wokeness, you're seeing that very strongly in British newspapers and media, and you're seeing some of the polarizing trends from the US. You're seeing similar things happening. I think, in Britain, it's the Brexit / Remain dimension. In Canada, it's political, whether you're conservative voter, or whether you're liberal or NDP. In Europe, there's a rise of the national populace and arise on the other hand of the greens. And so you're kind of seeing, I think, many similarities. I mean, people - Yes, it is not, the polarization is not as intense here as it is in the United States. But I think it is, nonetheless, I think many of the same patterns are emerging in both places, whereas the religious right phenomenon was really completely left field with almost no analogies to that in Europe, I mean, a few bits and pieces in Ireland or Poland, but basically, something completely odd. And similarly with democracy, promotion and neoconservatism. That was quite quite strange as well. The politics of guns quite strange, but this, some of the issues Trump keyed into around particularly immigration, that's very familiar.
Well, I mean, so, you know, that was gonna be the last question, but like, you know, you're talking about like, you live in England, you're talking about immigration, all this stuff. I thought that was all fixed by Brexit, like, what's going on with that? I you know, I don't know. I mean, I have relatives in England, we don't really talk about politics, whatever. But I thought Brexit was you know, the return of you know, these these socially conservative traditional labour supporting people and I have actually have friends who are from that background and all their working class relatives flipped to the Tories. Is there still that energy left? I mean, I thought that the energy would have been expended by Brexit.
Well, Brexit, of course= you know, immigration, attitudes and priorities is really what was most heavily correlated with voting Brexit. The, you know, what happens is then the Brexit voters sorted into the Conservative Party who gets who, who at the last election got, I think over 90% of the the Brexit vote, a very high share of the Brexit vote. Now what Brexit did a couple of things. One, is it Yeah, you're right, it took some of the energy out of the immigration issue because Britain was able to control his borders. But I always believe that to be a bit of Chimera in the sense that I, you know, part of what part of the energy behind that was that people didn't want 300,000 A year coming into Britain. They, you know, the the pledge of the Tories had been to reduce immigration to 10,000s. And I still think the question of numbers and volume is absolutely critical to the to the Brexit voter. And even though they're the elite Tories, people like Johnson and some of the sort of global Britain, people who are more prominent in the elite of the party sort of sold this as a bit of a hey, we could be a free trading global nation out free of Europe. Their vision, really more or less sees immigration being retained at a similar level, to prior to the Brexit vote. My own view is that Brexit voters are kind of going to be prepared to give a pass to the government for some years because they're implementing Brexit and we've gone through COVID So migration has been dampened anyway. However, once we're back to a situation where I think migration is in the level of the 300000s, and you're getting issues and in the channel, and the government is seem to be not very effectual on this issue, then you're gonna start to see the kinds of discontent that generated UKIP and Brexit in the first place in the 20, you know, rebelling in some way against the Cameron Tory government. And I think we're starting to begin to see this now. With with people being turned off a little bit from the Johnson government, so I guess, if things remain as they are now, I would I would predict kind of the return of a kind of populist movement and already they're starting to pull somewhat that Immigration is now a top issue amongst Tory voters. So yeah, I would say that I find where Johnson, I'd be worried about my right flank, which is going to hit the Tories heavily in these working class seats known as the red wall, which are critical for them. And so yeah, it's going to be an interesting one to watch how they respond to some of this.
Yeah, I mean, but you're talking about the Tories? Like, I mean, what's going on with labor? I mean, I don't you know, I'm curious, because, I mean, it seems like okay, they went Corbin. Now, they've kind of talked a little bit to the center. But culturally, they seem so detached from a lot of the voters that it's going to be really hard for them to make - to get traction. Am I wrong in that impression?
Oh, yeah, I think you're right in that actually, I mean, this is partly the malaise of the left across Western Europe, where they've been recording some of their worst results since the war. You know, in France, in the Netherlands, in country after country. Germany is a partial, partial exception. But generally, the left has really been suffering as a result of this cultural turn from focusing on class issues to focusing more on identity issues. I mean, there's something similar you see with the Democrats in the US that in the US, you might be able to make that stick, because you have there's, there's at least you can count on African Americans as a support base. But in Europe, there is no such support base. So it's really just the large cities and college towns, which are behind this sort of politics. And yeah, that's sort of was shown up very clearly in the Brexit vote where labour were on the wrong side of that they paid a heavy price for that. And currently, they haven't really been able to establish their kind of patriotic credentials with those small c conservative working class voters in the red wall. So that's in the geography of British elections, that is extremely damaging, you know, piling up votes in heavily liberal cities, and college towns is not going to do anything for the Labour vote. So they just have to kind of hope that the Tories get so unpopular, that it flips them across a threshold where they're able to win in some of those seats. I mean, I think a more likely scenario is that a populist right force comes in and eats enough into the Tory vote that labour is able to sort of get back some of those Redwall seats. I don't see how they're going to be able to do it otherwise.
Yeah, cuz that's what UKIP did, you know, to some extent, a decade ago or so, I mean, I think Cameron still won. But there had to be a alliance with the Liberal Democrats and whatnot. So I mean, yes, first, first past the post system, you never know. I mean, these sorts of things happen. All right. You know, it's been really great talking to you, Eric, we didn't talk about your first book about Anglo America. But you know, I don't want to, you know, twho our podcasts are a bit much but "Rise and Fall of Anglo America" 2004. That's a fascinating topic. I would love to talk about that sometime. You know, I'm super interested in that topic. And that book, you have a little bit more distance and perspective it was published in 2004. So you know, that that's another topic, you're fascinated or interested in this great conversation. So I guess the future is going to be religious fundamentalist, right wing populist, right? is that that's your prediction. You're sticking to it?
Well, they're opposite things, right. I mean, the the populist thing is about sort of ethnic and national differences. Differences between if you like, the religious differences within and I guess the evidence is, is more that those differences within between fundamentalists and moderates are seculars is more going to be more consequential demographically. That's sort of the way it looks. And it's not something I'm... I'd celebrate, but it's certainly I can't see what necessarily could stop it. I mean, perhaps some strange equilibrium between one part of the world that's very religious producing just enough APA states to keep the seculars growing at the same rate, you know, some strange equilibrium that's possible. But yeah, right now, I think it certainly seems as though, especially with these very low total fertility rates amongst non religious populations. It's hard to see it going any other way.
Yeah, well, you know what, I'm trying to make it I'm trying to make a one man difference in that replacement. So you know, all the listeners out there. So you hit replacement, you know, you're doing you're staying in place. You're doing your part. All right. Thank thank you for talking to me, Eric. I think the listeners really enjoy this conversation. And you have a good day and stay stay warm and chilly old England.
Thanks Razib, thanks very much you too all the best
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